Storing your tea
Once fresh tea leaves are plucked they pass through a number of processing stages to produce the finished leaf.
One of these is drying which removes around 97% of the moisture from the leaf. This makes it shelf stable and when stored properly can serve you well for a good length of time.
We think of this as the slumber phase of the tea leaf, where the leaves rest until you stir them from their slumber by pouring hot or boiling water across them. They will quickly respond by re-hydrating and expanding in size by around 3 times.
By its very nature, tea is a hydroscopic product, meaning it will also very easily and happily absorb moisture and odours in the air. This absorption of moisture can impact both the quality and flavour of your stored tea leaf.
Naturally, most of us store our dry tea leaf in the kitchen area, where it can easily be exposed to moisture (e.g steam from a boiling kettle) or strong aromas in the air (e.g open spices in your pantry) which are readily absorbed by your exposed leaf. Tea leaf can also be degraded by light and heat.
So if you want your beautiful tea to stay in great condition then simply:
Store your tea in an airtight container (our resealable bags are perfect), in a cool dark place away from strong aromas.
Each time you make a cuppa try and minimise the amount of time the container is open so that you are not exposing the leaf unnecessarily to moisture and scents in the surroundings.
- Moisture – Tea is generally manufactured and sealed at around 3% moisture content. Normal kitchen temperatures and humidity lead to a moisture content of around 8%. At this level tea begins to lose its freshness.
- Air – Tea left exposed to the air will also be exposed to the moisture and contaminants contained in the air.
- Heat –If dried tea is exposed to heat its flavour is flattened and dulled. Prolonged exposure to heat above 85 degrees can result in mould.
- Light – Fading in the leaf can be caused by light. Light is also a source of heat.
P.S A use for your spent leaves:
While absorbing moisture and smell is a disadvantage in the storage of tea it offers a number of options for using your spent leaves around the house as a deodoriser. Use your spent dried leaves for soaking up any fridge smells or popping into animal litter. Rub wet steeped leaves into your hands or chopping boards to remove fish or onion/garlic smells.
Posted: Thursday 12 August 2021